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135: NO COP OUT!

TUE 8 NOV11:02 - Moon Howl 135 cleaning up the COP27 bull with the ancestors....


The coming week welcomes an auspicious full lunar eclipse in Taurus - astrological sign of the bull. If you’re lucky enough to be hanging out with the Yak in Mongolia you’ll get a great view of affairs, but Japan, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Alaska, California and a fair chunk of the US will also see the moon turn blood red for a couple of hours. Resist the temptation to book your carbon spewing air tickets to join the Mongol herders, there will be online footage of the event should you not want to miss out on the action. WARNING: It's a gorgeously gradual occurrence over four hours or so. Star Wars movie it is not. This weekend also sees the start of the United Nations COP 27 Climate Conference in Egypt. Delegates from the 198 signatory countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will meet to discuss the accelerating climate catastrophe caused by human behaviour and our associated carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. Climate injustice - the situation in which countries that contribute the least emissions pay the highest price in damage to lives, livelihoods and infrastructure - will be high on the agenda. Developing countries such as Bangladesh, Columbia, Uruguay, Kenya, Mozambique and Sudan (to name but a few) have taken huge hits in the crisis. Island states in the Pacific, Caribbean, Seychelles and Maldives are already seeing the catastrophic effects of rising sea levels that threaten their very existence. In contrast, it has been a mild, spectacular autumn here in Northern Europe with unusually warm temperatures and golden sunny days bringing the best out of the broad leaved trees still holding their rusty canopy. It's a celebrated, seasonal favourite for many despite justifiable concerns for what the climate crisis has in store for the months and years ahead. Lest we forget amidst this northern autumn splendour, that Pakistan, Nigeria, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Venezuela and Australia are currently facing devastating floods that have displaced more than 40 million people from their submerged homes and destroyed livelihoods. Under this Taurus Full Moon Eclipse we can expect our stubborn, impatient streaks to come to the fore. Denial in general will be rife, but with particular focus on our active role in current planetary climate trends. For those with the will to address the issues involved however, this moon is a great time to reorganise our personal lives and finances, hopefully with a view to making them as close to carbon neutral as possible. As Greta Thunberg pointed out in a recent article, of a world population of nearly 8 billion, "3 billion people use less energy, on an annual per capita basis, than a standard American refrigerator." As we in the northern hemisphere bemoan the prospect of energy shortages and related rising costs this winter, getting on for half the planet's population exists with a carbon footprint of just ONE of our kitchen appliances. Sadly, for all of our technological advances, we are perhaps further away from global equity and climate justice than ever. At last year's COP26 summit in Glasgow, the major world economies pledged not only to progressively cut their carbon emissions but to collectively contribute $100bn to help countries worst hit by climate catastrophe. One year later, neither target has been met, not even close. Perversely, at a time this year when oil companies are publishing staggering annual profits in tens of billions, it has come to light that the fossil fuel industry receives over $400 billion in annual state subsidies to continue its drilling and mining regimes. Yup! That's governments paying out $400 billion a year to oil, gas and coal producers to exacerbate the current crisis but not even prepared to stump up their part towards the proposed (largely non-existent) $100 billion fund to alleviate damage directly caused to those most vulnerable to the climate fallout. Despite last year's COP26 rhetoric and pledges, the past twelve months have seen record levels of carbon emissions to match the record temperatures set across the planet. Regrettably, it appears we are well on track to 'irreversible' climate breakdown rather than the scientifically supported, internationally agreed limit of a 1.5 degree maximum rise in global warming that might mitigate the worst of the effects. At the heart of every Taurus moon is the loyalty and love shared with family and friends. Under this Taurus lunar eclipse these traits are likely to be heightened. Close relationships will be fiercely defended so watch out for the telltale signs of bulls ready to charge over the next few days - hooves pawing the earth antagonistically (particularly in the debating halls of COP27); horns being sharpened; steam boiling from the nostrils; be they those of others or our own - and show appropriate levels of caution. Resist the temptation to enter china shops or don your red cape over the next few days my bullish friends. This Taurus Lunar Eclipse peaks just after the pre-Christian Celtic cross-quarter festival (half way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice) of Samhain (meaning 'end of summer' in Gaelic and pronounced Sow-in). It announces a time of year, considered important by many ancient cultural traditions around the globe, in which the dead are venerated by the living. Heralded by plant life withering and dying as the northern winter approaches, it is still believed by many to be the lunar month when the normally impermeable boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead become temporarily merged, allowing the souls of those that have passed away to revisit the earthly plane - hence all the ghost and ghoulie shenanigans that surround Hallowe'en. 2,000 years back to the Roman conquest, the existing pagan/Samhain celebrations would have combined with the simultaneous Ancient Roman festival of the dead. Then, when the Christians eventually turned up on northern European shores, the festival was once again amalgamated, this time appropriated by the Christian celebrations of martyrs and saints held on All Saints Day to All Souls Day. One title given to the Christian festival was All-Hallows' Day, on 1st November, the evening before being christened All-Hallows' Eve, which mutated into the modern day, scary consumer fest of Hallowe'en. Spending in the UK on Halloween in 2022 is projected to be £687 million but the US gets the spooky honours with $10.6 BILLION projected to be spent on costumes, decorations and candy. Scary indeed. Modern day Mexico still has its Day of the Dead under this moon, but similar festivals of the dead amongst Peruvians, Pacific Islanders, ancient Persians, Aztecs and Incas have all been well documented. In Madagascar, the bodies of deceased relatives are still dug up at this time of year to be danced with, quite literally, before being reburied in the celebratory ritual of Famadihana, designed to honour those that have died. But why? The dead have surely had their time; been and gone. No lamenting their departure can bring them back to life. A recent Canadian social science survey asked a cross section of people with terminal illnesses what their greatest fears were regarding their impending deaths. After the fear of pain, the most commonly mentioned anxiety was the fear of not being remembered once dead - of being forgotten. Ancestral festivals of the dead across the globe could therefore be attributed to assuaging the fears surrounding the inevitable demise of the living as much as appeasing the otherwise forgotten dead, but perhaps serve the purpose of both. According to a study conducted for the respected medical journal The Lancet, the global Covid-19 death toll 'may be three times higher than official figures' indicating that the pandemic is likely to have claimed more than 18 million lives worldwide. In the UK the official number of dead with Covid-19 on their death certificates approaches 175,000. Internationally, there are millions of households, families and communities that have been blighted by tragic loss. Some claim that with better governmental planning, decision making, distribution of vaccines and resources, those numbers could have been significantly reduced. The pandemic brought a new perspective on life and death for many of us. Under a moon of ancestral remembrance, let's not forget the human actions that gave rise to Covid or those that sadly lost their lives as a result. Whatever the reason, whatever one's belief system, there is never a bad time to remember the dead and in particular our own ancestors, to whom we owe our existence. They are, after all, the giants upon whose shoulders we stand and to whom we should always be grateful. If we go back far enough in evolution, the early biological cell structures that emerged from the boiling swamp of planet Earth were our primal ancestors. In all our scientific complexity, we still struggle to understand the very apparent intelligence operating in the simplest cellular structures. We understand how they work but the origin of their (our) animating consciousness largely eludes us. It is a valuable exercise to consider all the strange quirks of fate; the biological melting pot; the chance meetings and cross fertilisation; the individual choices made through millennia; the infinite untold factors and circumstances that have led to our present lives: the weather conditions, the songs sung, the prayers said, the whisky drunk; we are living proof of transitory synchronicity, the momentum of which we continue to embody, through generations to come with all other beings in the timeless energetic cycle of birth and death. Truly, every one of us is a walking bloody miracle. "For over two billion years, through the apparent fancy of her endless differentiations and metamorphosis the Cell, as regards its basic physiological mechanisms, has remained one and the same. It is life itself, and our true and distant ancestor." Albert Claude So, under this Taurus Full Moon, why not entreat ourselves to gratefully remember the loved ones, both dead and alive, known and unknown, seen and unseen, from distant generations past or still sharing our path? They are the foundation stone of our lives in this holy instant, our tribe in the wider miraculous family of Life without whom we would and could not exist. Here's a plan: Let's build a wee Taurus Full Moon Shrine to the ancestors. Take time to pick out a few photographs or objects that remind you of friends, relations or individuals with whom you have an affinity, particularly those that have died in the past twelve months. If you have a family tree diagram, find and include it. Why not research and make a family tree if you don't have one? Arrange said images and objects on a small table, mantlepiece or shelf with a candle/candles, an incense stick or two and some fresh cut flowers, foliage or something grown in the earth. Over the coming lunar month, take time morning and night to light the candles on your ‘family’ shrine and gratefully remember the ancestors, dead or alive, for the treasured gift of life they have bequeathed you. As you remember them with love and affection, resolve to use their gift of life in the best way you can for the benefit of all, that you too may eventually be a well remembered ancestor. Such genuinely held, grateful intentions focus on serving the bigger picture rather than our own immediate selfish desires and carry an almost immediate return in power, purpose and joy. In front of your shrine, remember your surviving family and friends, those that still share your path in fraternity, bringing Love into your life as an embodied, tangible experience. In contemplation, if someone in particular comes to mind that you haven't seen in a while, follow it up and make contact. If you've got an outstanding Taurus beef with anyone, under this moon make attempts to resolve the differences, or forgive and move on unencumbered. Remember, those you do not know and never will should nonetheless be recognised as part of the great global family of humankind, with their individual concerns, fears and foibles, worthy of love and respect. Take time to remember those that died during the pandemic and their bereaved. Remember those killed in historic or recent violent conflict the world over and their devastated families. Remember those whose lives, homes and livelihoods have been lost to the climate violence we have caused. Remember them all as brothers and sisters and offer, not just a nod of heartfelt sympathy and respect for being in the same, mutually dependent, family but a pledge to do what you can do to improve life for all on this beautiful and precious planet in their memory. Until the Gemini Moon in a month’s time, tend and clean the shrine, continue the practice of standing or sitting quietly and respectfully before it in grateful remembrance of those that have gone before you to make your path possible. You will be met with loving gratitude in return. By extending our Taurus Lunar Eclipse inspired love and loyalty to the wider family of humanity, past present and future, and to the true ancestral ecosystems that birthed us and upon which we still depend, we nurture the fertile earth of change for the benefit of that whole, united family. Let's hope the outcomes at COP27 carry a similar intent. "To us, the Earth was an extended family. We were born from it and into it we will return" Lame Deer, Sioux holy man




watercolour 18 X 14cm 2022




A few people have asked me to include a practical, step by step guide to mindfulness/meditation. I maintain that the process is very simple. The stumbling block for most folks is not how to do it but how to maintain the discipline to really attain full benefit. Regular practice, even for 5 minutes morning and evening will bring almost instant results. Further progress naturally comes with further discipline - a few extra minutes each day as feels comfortable.

Recommended as you first rise in the morning or just before you retire to bed in the evening...or both.

Switch off the devices - no distractions.

If necessary, let others in your household know that you do not wish to be disturbed for a short while.

Create a quiet, relaxed space with a chair in which you can sit comfortably with a straight back (option to light a candle/incense should you wish. Wrap yourself in a blanket if it feels right).

Sit with a straight back and concentrate solely on your breathing until your thoughts start to slow down.

Don't beat yourself up if your uncontrolled thoughts keep distracting you - just acknowledge those thoughts, observe their origins and swiftly return your concentration to the breath....quite literally the physical sensations of breathing in and out and only this.

When the mind finally calms (5 -10 mins), i.e. when the gaps between thoughts get noticeably longer, a spaciousness may be experienced.

Explore it.

Where are you in relation to that space?

Listen carefully for any words, messages or feelings that may (or may not) arise in the space.

Relax and dwell in the spaciousness as long as feels comfortable, returning concentration to the breath when thought intermittently arises.

To finish, gratefully acknowledge that spaciousness as your own: a safe, happy, healthy and, above all, peaceful space to which you can return at any time simply by focusing on your breath.

Return to the awareness of your body, surroundings and your day to day activities, hopefully imbued with peace.

You have begun to enjoy and picture "a love of already satisfied desire." (Albert Einstein)

It's better than telly.

DO give this practice a regular spot in your daily digital diary.

DO make a quick note of anything unusual you experienced during the meditation (always have a notebook nearby).

DON'T fret if you miss a few days. Just return to the practice as soon as possible and reaffirm your commitment to the positive change it brings.



Versions of these writings are sometimes available on the website Your comments and kind support are always welcome. Don't hesitate to get in touch should you feel the urge. Collaborations and commissions always considered...apart from portraits of pets and children.



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